"I am the vine, you are the branches"
The Tabernacle and the Believer's Prayer Life
In this newsletter we want to look at the tabernacle and what it has to do with the prayer life of every believer. The Tabernacle of God, or the Mishkan in Hebrew, was the dwelling place of God, or you can say, God's house, the place where He lived. Moses constructed the tabernacle in the wilderness, and Solomon built the first permanent temple. The temple and the tabernacle were set up the exact same way except that rooms along the side were added to the temple for the priesthood. For this newsletter we will be mainly referring to the tabernacle. Since the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, there has not been another temple built. The sacrifices, the priesthood, and basically everything that the temple stood for has come to an end . . . or has it? Let's take a closer look!
Moses and the Tabernacle
The Lord spoke to Moses saying, "Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution and this is the contribution which you are to raise from them: gold, silver, bronze, blue, purple, and scarlet material, fine linen, goat hair, rams' skins dyed red, porpoise skins, acacia wood, oil for lighting, spices for anointing oil and for fragrant incense, and onyx stones and setting stones for the ephod and for the breastplate. And let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct." And so we see then that all the congregation, the sons of Israel, departed from Moses and everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought the Lord's contribution for the work of the tent of meetings and for all its service and for the holy garments. Our hearts must be moved to bring our financial offering to God for the maintaining of His house. All the skilled workers begin the work of the tabernacle and they said to Moses, "The people are bringing much more than enough for the construction work which the Lord commanded us to perform." So Moses tells the people not to bring any more contributions for the sanctuary.
We find that repeatedly it is stated in the Scriptures that every detail in the construction of the tabernacle was constructed as it was shown to Moses on the mountain. God was definitely into the details. Why? Why did God want Moses to be so specific about even the smallest detail? The answer is that what Moses saw as a pattern for the earthly tabernacle was the heavenly tabernacle and so God wanted it constructed the exact same way to serve the exact same purpose and it is this tabernacle that existed from the beginning and is still in existence today. It is here that we begin our journey of prayer through the tabernacle. On the way to the temple (and I'm sure it was the same for the tabernacle) the people would sing praises to God. Out of this came the Psalms and what is called the Hallel, those particular Psalms which were sung when the people went on pilgrimage to the House of God. The Psalmist writes, "I enter Your gates with thanksgiving and Your courts with praise." We must come before God with such an attitude in our hearts, bringing our sacrifice of praise.
As we now approach the tabernacle, we will see what Moses saw and the meaning behind each item and how it relates to our prayer life. To enter into the tabernacle, you went through the outer drape. Yeshua tells us that He is the door and that we must enter through Him. This is how we are to enter into prayer, in the name of Yeshua; and so we enter in.
Once we enter in the tabernacle, we see the Altar of Sacrifice and the Laver. The Altar of Sacrifice is where all the sacrifices were slaughtered and offered up to God. The sacrifice was the means by which the people could draw near to God. Yeshua is our sacrifice by which we draw near to God. The priests would sacrifice an animal for the sin offering and then they would gather the blood and sprinkle it upon the altar; and so we read, "Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water." The priest would offer up the burnt offering in the morning and in the evening and it was this offering which was to burn continually. The Jews also had their times of prayer in accordance with these morning and evening sacrifices. We see this in Acts 3, when Peter and John went up to the temple at the ninth hour and there they healed the lame man at the Gate Beautiful. They were going to the temple for morning prayer. The altar was the center of the tabernacle. Yeshua, who became the altar, is to be the center of our lives. So, Yeshua becomes the altar by which we are to lay down our lives as living sacrifices.
The Laver was made of copper. It was like a big kettle. It is believed that the first laver was made from the donations of the righteous women who gave their mirrors which were made from copper. The laver was the first vessel which the priest had contact with each day. God tells Moses in Exodus 30:20-21 that one is forbidden to begin any sacred temple service or even draw near to the altar until he sanctified his hands and feet. The blood of Yeshua cleanses us from the filth of our sins and purifies our hearts. Yeshua, the Word made flesh, now becomes the laver. James tells us this: "Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was." Paul tells us that before we come to eat the bread and drink the cup we are to examine ourselves. So we see before we can even draw near to God that we must repent, purify ourselves and be washed in the blood of Yeshua.
From the outer court we now enter into the Holy Place. There is a drape that divides the two. Some people believe that it was this drape that was torn when Yeshua died, thus allowing those who were not of the priesthood to now enter into the Holy Place. Spiritually this would make sense because Scripture tells us that now we have access to the Father because of Yeshua.
As we enter into the Holy Place, we see the Table of Showbread on the right and the Menorah on the left and straight ahead we would have seen the Altar of Incense.
The menorah is a 7-branched candlestick that was made to look like the Tree of Life. The menorah was to be lit continually day and night. The purest of olive oil was used to light the lamps. The oil represents the Holy Spirit, as we see in Zechariah 4. The menorah was the only light in the tabernacle. Yeshua is the Light that shown from the tabernacle; He is the Light of the World.
To the right of the menorah was the Table of Showbread. The Hebrew Lehem Panim means "bread of the face" or "table of presence," which it was also referred to as. Twleve loaves of fresh unleavened bread were placed on the table every Sabbath and the previous loaves were then eaten by the priests. Each loaf contained two tenths of an ephah of the finest flour. This was twice the daily ration of manna in the wilderness. Yeshua is the finest of wheat. He is the true manna from heaven. The Table of Presence is where we can come and feast at the table of the Lord, for He is our food and drink. When we come into His presence we gain our strength from the spiritual food of His table. Like the song sings, "In His presence that's where I belong. In His presence, that's where I belong. In His presence, that's where I am strong. Seeking His face, touching His grace. In Your presence, Oh Lord."
Down the middle of the Holy Place, in front of the drape that was in front of the Holy of Holies, stood the Altar of Incense. This bronze altar was like a smaller version of the Altar of Sacrifice. Fig branches were used for the firewood in the temple because they believe that it was at this spot that Adam sinned and sewed fig leaves. The priest would take some of the hot coals from the burnt offering which was offered up twice a day for the fire. Like the burnt offering, the fire would go straight up like a column of smoke. A special blend of spices was used for the incense. This altar represents the prayers of the saints. Revelations speaks of the golden bowl full of incense which are the prayers of the saints (Revelation 5:8).
Behind the Altar of Incense was a drape with Cherubim woven into it and behind this veil, you entered into the holiest place on earth, the Holy of Holies. In this room sat the Ark of the Covenant. On the top of the Ark sat the mercy seat with two large winged Cherubim. Inside sat the two tablets written by God, Aaron's staff that budded, and a jar of manna, all a reminder of God's power and provision and authority. It was here that only the High Priest could enter once a year, on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and only with the blood of the sin offering. He would burn the incense on the altar and then go in and sprinkle the mercy seat with the blood and pronounce God's eternal name, Yahweh. Yeshua now has become our High Priest. He has entered into the Holy of Holies. He became our sin offering and He has sprinkled His own blood upon the mercy seat for the atonement of our sins.
Now that we have seen each article in the tabernacle, we are going to walk through the tabernacle in prayer. Once again I want to remind you that the tabernacle still exists today in heaven and we have become the priesthood with Yeshua as the High Priest over us.
Praying Through the Tabernacle
So many times we just start praying and telling God our troubles, but there is a correct way to enter into prayer. I want to say that this is only a model; you can add to it, but I believe that God has a set order of things for everything in life and that includes our prayer life and coming into His presence. As priests, we must follow the order of the tabernacle.
We start on pilgrimage to the House of the Lord. Here is where we sing and praise the Lord. We enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Yeshua is the door, we must come in the name of Yeshua. Then we must stop at the altar bringing the sacrifice by which we draw near, that is Yeshua. From there we go to the Laver and wash in the blood of the Lamb, repenting of our sins and asking for forgiveness. We then go and enter into the Holy Place. We stop at the table of the Lord, for Yeshua is our food and drink. We then go to the Menorah, for Yeshua is our Light and there we ask the Holy Spirit to anoint us. Then we bring our prayers and supplications before God at the Altar of Incense.
So to put this all together, I believe your prayer should sound something like this: After praise we would say, "Father, I come in the name of Yeshua and I draw near by His sacrifice. I thank You, Father, that You loved me so much that You sent Yeshua to die on my behalf so that I may have eternal life and I thank You, Yeshua, for that sacrifice. I thank You, Yeshua, for Your shed blood, for there is power in that blood to wash me clean. Wash me of all my known and unknown sins and all that I have committed with my thoughts, words, and deeds. Take off my filthy garments and robe me in Your righteousness, for You are my righteousness. Father, let me come and feast at Your table in the sight of Your Word, for Yeshua is the true manna from heaven. He is the finest of wheat. He is our food and drink, our portion, our cup overflows. He is our life, for Yeshua is the Bread of Life. He is the way, the truth, and the life; lead me in the path that leads to life and keep my foot from slipping, for Yeshua is the Light of the World. He is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Holy Spirit, anoint me in the oil of that light and impart to me Your wisdom, knowledge, understanding, discernment, your insight and Your foresight and Your truth. Let me not be deceived and pass on a deception, but give me truth. And Father, let my prayers and supplications and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You."
Now you can start to petition God. You can begin to praise and worship again if you choose, but then it is here where you begin to be still and listen to what God has to say to you.
Yeshua Our Tabernacle
The tabernacle of God is Yeshua. Yeshua becomes the tabernacle as we read in Revelation 21, "And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them and God Himself shall be among them.'" Again, "And I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty, the Lamb, are it's temple." Yeshua's name Immanuel, "God dwelling with us," is all about God dwelling with men. This is what the fall feasts are about, starting with Rosh HaShanah, the return of Yeshua at the sounding of the trumpet; and the books being opened during the High Holy Days and closing at Yom Kippur; and the redeemed of the Lord living for eternity with Yeshua as our temple and covering as God dwells among us forever represented in the Feast of Tabernacles. We pray that everyone this year sees the importance of celebrating these feasts as it says in God's Word, one day we all will be celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles.
Have a marvelous celebration of Rosh HaShanah. Blow those trumpets, for the Lord our God is coming! Have a reflective Holy Week ending with Yom Kippur. Let's make ourselves ready for His coming. Have a great celebration of the birth of Messiah and remember, as you spend time in your tent, Yeshua is our tabernacle, our covering for eternity.